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Water LIFE The Charlotte Harbor Reef Association

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A lw ay s Fr e e

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Letters to email: Dear Mike, I am writing this letter to question the placement of the artificial reefs along our coastal waters. Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't the State give grants to help build these reefs? If this is the case, why do they get placed in Federal Waters? As a licensed State of Florida fishing guide without having Federal permits I can only fish 9 miles into the Gulf. If I want to fish passed 9 miles into Federal waters, I must have the Federal permits for reef and pelagic species. As far as I know, they are not issuing any more and if they expire, they are gone forever. The question is: Why don't they place more of these reefs closer to the edge of the State waters so those of us that do not have or can't afford Federal permits can utilize the State sponsored reefs?

Sincerely, Capt. Bart Marx

Good Question, Capt. Bart. Let me look into it – MH Hi Michael & Ellen, I just read your December article on the 100,000 missing boats and believe there is also another reason for the decline in registered boats. I priced new boats at the Fort Myers Boat Show last month and came to the conclusion that if new car prices went up as much as boats in the last 10-12 years Jeep Grand Cherokees would cost $100,000 instead of $35,000. Tom Stivison Redfish Yacht Brokers

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Not affiliated with any other publication Vol XII No 1 © 2013

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Breuggeman Tournament

The 2013 Southwest Florida Gulf of Mexico offshore fishing tournament season gets underway when the Ninth Annual Capt. John Breuggeman Memorial Grouper Tournament is held on Sunday January 20. Established in January 2005, it is a way to honor John Breuggemanʼs life by funding local scholarships. The tournament is based at the Englewoodʼs Cape Haze Marina. Last yearsʼ event allowed three scholarships to be donated to the John and Caroline Breuggeman Scholarship Fund. The tournament begins with a Saturday night captainʼs meeting followed by an early start on Sunday morning to the offshore fishing grounds. The competitors have fun fishing during the day and then return to the Marina for a late afternoon weigh-in of the

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largest groupers to determine the winners. Last year the top three winners split $3,000 in prize money. The captains and crews share the dayʼs experiences with family and friends during an outdoor barbecue at the Marina as the tournament festivities continue. The award ceremony and prize raffle conclude the event. All anglers and participants receive a T-shirt commemorating the tournament. The spirit of the tournament is to provide a chance to fish, to have fun, to eat together, to raise scholarship money, and especially to honor the memory of Capt. John Breuggeman. If you would like to join us at this yearʼs event (as a participant, sponsor or just as a spectator) please visit or call Connie Breuggeman at (941) 474-6586.

Contributing Editors:

Photography: Senior Editor: Capt. Ron Blago Charter Fishing: Capt. Bart Marx Port Charlotte: Capt. Billy Barton Punta Gorda: Capt. Chuck Eichner Sea Grant: Betty Staugler Real Estate: Dave Hofer Inshore: Fishinʼ Frank Offshore: Capt Jim OʼBrien Kayaking: David Allen Office Dog: Molly Brown

on the COVER:

By the end of December mullet were stacked up in area canals and local mullet fishermen were out in the Peace River throwing cast nets on them. TURN THE PAGES EVERY MONTH Back Issues to 2004 Kids Charters Fishing Classes Tides Weather Sailing Kayaking Diving

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Invasive Catfish Feed on Pigeons

By Mi chael Hel l er Water LIFE editor In 1983 European catfish got into the Tarn River in France. The fish were already in other river systems throughout Europe, so it took no time for them to establish a self-sustaining population, but soon some of the Tarn River catfish began to demonstrate a never-before-seen behavior. Marine predators such as killer whales and bottlenose dolphins display intentional ‘beaching’ behavior to catch prey. In many predators extreme hunting behaviors represent a form of ecological specialization that may be displayed only by a select subset of the overall population. In France, scientists reported the occurrence of a hunting behavior by catfish in the Tarn River that is analogous to the intentional beaching of marine mammals. But the alien freshwater catfish took it a step further, they were capturing and eating land birds! Monitoring from a bridge between June 30 and October 19, 2011, scientists observed that only certain individual fish were foraging on land birds. Fifty-four beaching behaviors with partial and mostly complete stranding were observed and filmed, among which almost one-third were successful, i.e. the land birds (pigeons that came to the river to bathe and drink) were captured on land, pulled into the river and swallowed. On one occasion they observed a complete stranding of a catfish on shore while hunting. In approximately 40%

of all observations, the catfish had more than half of their body outside of the water. According to the report, the beaching behavior was quick, lasting from less than one second to no more than 4 seconds. There is video on You Tube, search: catfish eats pigeons. Scientists concluded the attacks were systematically triggered by active pigeons. Motionless pigeons, even those very close to the catfish, were never attacked. Before the attack, the catfish were observed to exhibit erected upper jaw barbels when they approached pigeons, suggesting that water vibrations, rather than visual cues, were used to detect the prey. Using stable isotope analyses, tissue samples of European catfish and their potential prey were collected from the observation site to quantify the contribution of land birds to the catfish diet. Researchers said that only some of the catfish, the smaller ones, attacked the pigeons. They observed a relationship between the individual’s body size and the dietary contribution of pigeons, reasoning that the smaller catfish were less successful than larger ones when preying upon other fish. The risk of being stranded on the riverbank and the energy cost of attacking a pigeon on land might also be lower for smaller individuals than for

large-bodied specimens. Scientists reasoned that the costs associated with displaying this new beaching behavior (e.g. learning, risk of being stranded) might be counterbalanced by high energy returns provided by the consumption of the new prey. The report concluded that land birds certainly represent a new ecological ‘opportunity’ that increases the diversity of food resources available to an introduced predator. The findings suggest this previously unseen predatory behavior might represent a new example of of an introduced species easily adapting to a new food source, and the behavior that could be an evolutionary change.

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Sharks in the Winter

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By Capt. Bart Marx Water LIFE Fishing There were a few reports about some anglers catching nice size sharks around Boca Grande, and Robert, at Fishin’ Franks asked me if I would be up to an experiment that he wanted to do. On my part there was some excitement when he said shark fishing, Yea! that’s what I thought about middle of December shark fishing. We both had plenty of gear and tackle to handle a good size fish - up to an 8 footer or so. The bait that we had was frozen from a trip when I saved the bodies of the fish I cleaned, and we had a few mullet and bonita frozen. I had hoped that we could find some mullet to catch fresh for bait in the cast net, not. We traveled along the beach from Gasparilla Pass to Boca looking for Spanish or something fresh and alive. We caught one Spanish about 14 inches long. Then we saw a few birds splashing in the channel at the first buoy in Boca, we trolled and we caught some fresh blue fish and kept them alive in the well. So this would end our search for bait. We got out our rods and were ready for shark encounters. This is one of those trips where it was not what you know but who. Robert had us fish where there had been reports of sharks being caught and it


was not too long and we had our first run. Robert being the great angler that he is, waited till the proper time and set the hook and it was game on. We were drifting so it made things a little hard- the fish wanted to see how many times it could get Robert to walk around the boatfive or six I think. And at one point we thought that it maybe- was a big ray. This went on about 20 minutes then there was a sighting of grey. This was a

relief because we really wanted it to be a shark, it was and a nice one at that. About a six foot black-tip shark. I might have not mentioned it, that fish was running Robert all around the boat and it was kicking his donkey. It was about thirty minutes when we cut the leader at the hook and released the black-tip in great shape a bit tired though. We estimated it to be about seventy pounds and a very healthy looking fish. We sat a minute and laughed and made the decision to go set back up and do another drift. The blue fish were great bait. I had another hit and ripped the hook loose, I was too excited and the blood was still pumping fast. Got another bait then Robert had another run and offered it to me, and I asked him ‘you sure?’- it was his rod and all. Any way I took the rod and in just a few minutes I had the fish up by the boat no problems. There was one factor that sometimes makes a difference. It had swallowed the hook into its stomach, that takes a lot of fight away from them. We figured it was about five and a half feet long, a little shorter than the one Robert had fought earlier and estimated sixty to sixty five pounds. This was a great time in the middle of December to land two nice size black-tip sharks.

Schedule times for family and new friends to get on the water or it may nev er happen. Call Capt. Bart Marx 941-979-6517 Alpha Omega Charters Singing drags and tight lines mak e me smile.




NMFS is amending the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan based on several shark stock assessments that were completed from 2009 to 2012. The assessments for Atlantic blacknose, dusky, and scalloped hammerhead sharks indicated that these species are overfished and experiencing overfishing. The assessment for sandbar sharks indicated that this species is overfished, but not experiencing overfishing. The assessment for Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks, adopted in this rulemaking, indicated that the stock is not overfished and not experiencing overfishing. The assessment for Gulf of Mexico blacknose sharks was not accepted; therefore, the overfished and overfishing statuses have been determined to be unknown. Based on the new stock assessments, and after considering public comments received during scoping and on a predraft document, we are proposing measures that would reduce fishing mortality and effort in order to rebuild overfished Atlantic shark species while ensuring that a limited sustainable shark fishery can be maintained consistent with our legal obligations. The proposed measures include changes to commercial quotas and species groups, the creation of several time/area closures, a change to an existing time/area closure, an increase in the recreational minimum size restrictions, and the establishment of recreational reporting for certain species of sharks. The proposed measures could affect U.S. commercial or recreational fishermen who harvest sharks within the Atlantic Ocean, including the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea.



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Fish Deep in January

By Capt Davi d S tephens Water LIFE Inshore During the winter months the success of your fishing trip can be measured by feet, and no I am not talking about the size of your catch. When the mercury starts to take a dive locating deeper holes can be key to your success. Most of the time the best guides on Charlotte Harbor will talk about the difference in water depth in inches. During the colder months those inches turn into feet. Rivers are a great starting point, such as the Peace and Myakka Rivers. If you have no experience on these bodies of water I highly recommend getting a chart not only to help locate deep water, but to also locate the bars. Normally the water is darker in these areas and the shallow bars are less visible. Let’s talk species and technique; I have caught everything from flounder to Spanish mackerel. On a normal outing fishing the depths, redfish, sea trout, mangrove snapper and sheep head are among the most abundant. Some of the largest snook I have landed have been this time of year fishing in over twenty feet of water with a little shrimp. The habitat for fish to call home is close without having to make a long boat ride. You can fish a deep mangrove shore line and in less than one mile fish a dock. The tides can

Hooked on Fishing


be much stronger due to the narrow creeks and deeper water. When I am fishing with shrimp I prefer to use a 1/8 to 1/4oz jig head depending on

the current flow. I try not to hold bottom but let my bait slowly wave on the bottom to look as natural as possible. With a little patience and some time locating deep water fish I am sure you will keep your rods bent. And don’t be surprised if that fish of a life time does not come from the murky depths of our local rivers. Dave Stephens 941-916-5769

Just loop a piece of leader around the hook and pull it out the way it went in.... Yeah-Right!

Photos forwarded from Lou Tumolo at the Rhinebeck, NY, Animal Hospital.



Be The Fish January


By Capt. Chuck Ei chner Water LIFE Punta Gorda Fishing To catch fish you have to think like a fish. Fish are not as mysterious as we make them out to be, but when they aren’t biting the mystery deepens. In general, there are seasonal patterns to any type of fish species and that is the first place to start when planning a fishing trip. Next, there are weather patterns that effect how fish behave during the seasonal pattern. The skillful angler studies the combination of patterns and breaks it down even further. Water depth, lure type, bait type and speed of retrieve are a few more things to consider. Fish are much like humans in some regards. We have patterns to our life, rising in the morning, eating around noon and the like - that’s about as basic as it gets. If we modify our daily flow of life from our normal routine, then we may not sleep well, for instance. Perhaps we ate the wrong food or fell asleep in front of the television before going to bed and then couldn’t sleep. The next day you are grumpy and tired and not seeing the world as gleaming as the day before. Fish behave in response to their constantly changing environment with tidal shifts, wind patterns, barometric pressure, water temperature, boat traffic and other factors beyond what we can even think of. January is a month of continual shifting patterns in the local fishing world. The fish calendar says it should be cold. Our winter fish are genetically imprinted to behave a certain way in the cold.

Trout become predictably easy to catch in deeper water as do sheepshead and other species. Redfish will generally run small but plentiful. A few days of wonderfully warm weather will send fisherman out on the water, but more often than not the fish don’t seem to react to the weather. December fishing this year was tough for me. Many anglers and fishing guides complained of the same thing. The warm December produced predictably slower fishing as the warmth was a shift in the seasonal pattern causing elevated water temperatures. I figure the fish were moody because there is some biological factor that changed their attitude as a result of their surroundings being 5-10 degrees warmer than their genetic blueprint for December. Last month, on many trips, I would find plenty of redfish and trout that were just not willing to bite, even on very large shrimp! The skies were sunny and bright, very little boat traffic, light

winds….a fisherman’s dreamday on many outings – where the fish just were not interested. So with shifting patterns you have to make the best of it. Shrimp will always be the best bait. The slower and closer you fish it to the bottom the more fish you will catch and that includes trout. Steady cold temperatures of 60s by day and 40s by night will create a pattern for trout. Deeper grassbeds of 3-5 feet will hold fish and lots of them. Don’t get up early because the fish sleep-in and wait for the sun. Start your day at 11:00 and finish at 4:00. All other Charlotte Harbor fish will worship the sun as well - and big snook will be seen in the shallows. Key word is seen because they become lethargic with colder waters and won’t eat. But there are still plenty of reasons to go fishing. The water is gin clear, there are a lot fewer boats and the tranquility is splendid. You can expect to catch flounder, pompano, redfish, trout, sheepshead, blowfish, lizardfish, ladyfish, jack crevalle, snapper and black drum. Amazingly they may all come from the

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same spot! Some are junk fish but they all pull on the line and that is a good thing! Canals are a good place to spend time as well as in Alligator Creek. The deeper waters are full of fish and are the most predictable place to fish. Seawalls collect solar energy from the sun and it transmits into the water on a cold day and fish like warmth. Fish a ¼ ounce jighead with a shrimp, glide it across the bottom and wait for a tap. Set the hook, hold the rod high and thank the Lord you are not fishing through an ice hole on a lake in Minnesota.

Capt. Chuck Eichner operates Action Flats Back country Charters and can be reached at 941-628-8040 or go to: www.back country

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By Capt. Bi l l y Barton Water LIFE / Charlotte Harbor If you haven't got wintertime fishing in Charlotte Harbor down to a science, I'm gonna try and make it a little easier for you. The first thing and most important in my opinion is that the winter brings us our lowest of low tides. I know I've written about this before but not everyone knows this and it's important to know especially in the winter. The basic direction that Charlotte Harbor runs is north and south. Pretty much all winter long we have Northern winds which come with the cold fronts that we get. Northern winds push a lot of the water out of Charlotte Harbor. They make the outgoing tides longer and stronger, and they make the incoming



Winter Fishinʼ Inshore

tides slower and shorter. In the opposite, this is why in the summertime we have our flood tides. Not to mention all of the rain, the southern winds push a lot of that water from the Gulf up into the Harbor. Why do you need to know about the tides? Because you need to know where the fish go, and you need to know where to catch ‘em! Typically in the summertime an inshore flats fisherman would target the mangrove bushes, and all of the grass flats he could ever desire. The tides would allow him to do so. In the wintertime however, you may have a few days here and there if you're lucky to fish up against the mangrove bushes. Yes the fish would still love to dwell there, but there's no water for them so the have to change their habits. By changing their habits I just mean the fish go find a place

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where there's enough water for them to feel comfortable. During the winter you may see snook, redfish, and trout sunning themselves in the shallows. Usually when they're in little to no water, you could potentially get them to eat but for the most part they are just there just to catch some sun rays and warm up. The fish that are going to eat in my opinion are the fish that are suspended down in the deeper troughs and potholes. Every sand bar and oyster bar has a trough on one side or the other. By understanding the bar you're fishing, and where that trough is, you can understand where the fish are at. A pair of polarized sunglasses is a necessary fishing tool especially in the winter time. They will help you to see the troughs and the shallow points on the bar much easier. Once you understand that particular bar and you think you know where those fish are laying, take yourself a nice lively shrimp and toss him in that deeper area and see what happens! If you aren't fishing an oyster bar or sand bar you can also learn to fish the potholes. Pretty much every shallow grass flat in this harbor has potholes. Potholes are simply natural indentations in our grass beds. Typically they're a foot to three feet deep and have a sandy bottom, and they range in size. Some are small and some are twenty feet or so across. When fishing the potholes I like

to stay back and fish them slowly and methodically. You could make casts into twenty of em on a flat and not catch a fish, but with enough patience if you find the right one it can be like hitting the jackpot at the casino! I've sat there and plucked twenty upper slot to oversize redfish out of a pothole that was only about six feet across on more than one occasion. Not only are you targeting redfish in these potholes, but the spotted sea trout, snook, flounder, pompano, sheepshead, heck pretty much everything that dwells on the grass flats will lay up in them. So in a nutshell, what I've written here is the key to catching fish on the flats in the winter time. Sure you're gonna’ have those fluke weeks when we have enough water to fish up against the bushes, but your success will be much greater once you start catching fish in open water. Well I think that's enough for me this month. Ya’ll take my little bit’a insight and put it to good use if you wanna’ upgrade your catch of the day! I promise I wasn't just thrown off the turnip truck! I hope everybody’s Holidays were happy ones filled with good family times and lots of big fish! Don't forget to take a kid out fishin’ with ya!! Here's to redfish tailin’ and sheepshead smilin!

Capt. Billy Barton, Scales N Tails Charters 979-6140 bartonw24@yahoo. com



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Winter Fishinʼ Offshore

By Capt. Bi l l y Barton Water LIFE / Charlotte Harbor My customer/friend from Texas came down and bought a beautiful 23 foot Ranger Bay boat. So during the month of December we worked around the winds and actually had some beautiful days offshore. I've been schooling him on bottom fishing for grouper and teaching him how to use his sonar. We've also been doing quite a bit of surface fishing for Spanish, king mackerel, bonita and amber jacks. Our most recent trip was probably one of our most exciting. I stopped and loaded up the live well with whitebait and some good size pin fish before we headed out to the Box Cars. For those of you who don't know the Box Cars is an artificial reef located about 18 miles out in the Gulf in about 85 feet of water. The box cars are spread out over about a mile or so, it's a pretty vast area. They do get a lot of pressure from fishermen and divers, however by using the right tactics there's a whole lot of fun to be had out there. I pulled us up near my favorite section of the reef. We set the anchor, and I began live chumming the whitebait. A lot of folks don't do this offshore, they do it inshore, but I tell you what, it really works! Just take a handful of whitebait out of your well, a bunch at a time, give em a little squishy and throw em out behind the boat. Some of the baits will make there way down the water column to the fish and some will flutter up on the surface. This is how you bring them big AJs, bonitas, and kings up to the top and get ‘em excited! I like to fish with medium light spinning tackle. I'm using 30# braid to a 40# fluorocarbon leader tipped with just a small piece of piano wire leader and a 2/0 hook. You wanna’ talk about hearing that drag scream! What fun!! I remember one trip with Captain Angel when he

actually had the amber jacks going so bonkers that we were fly fishing them! Words just can't express the excitement! However on this particular trip with my friend David from Texas and his mother Linda we boated over 20 good sized bonitas, 3 legal size kings, and a half a dozen amber jacks in the 15-20 pound range. These weren't giant fish, but for the tackle we were using they sure as heck were fun! The highlight of the trip was my friend getting beat over and over by the big Goliath Groupers dwelling under the boat. Heck I let him use the big rod and try for em over and over. I just kept rigging him up! He just couldn't do it, so yours truly had to show him how it's done! I ended up putting down a whole 6-8 pound bonita on the big rod. Before it hit the bottom I felt a huge thump that traveled up the line and fishing rod until I could feel it in my spine. I knew what I was in for. I set the hook on the fish, and like a freight train he headed straight to the bottom searching for his hole. I couldn't even pick the rod up off the side of the boat! I don't think he hardly knew he was hooked. I was just a nuisance. He rocked me up. I sat and waited him out. Eventually he swam out of his whole and I put it to him

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again (when I say put it to him I was just doing everything I could to turn the handle on the reel) I still couldn't get the rod up off the side of the boat. Eventually the fish made it to a different hole. What did I do!? I sat and waited for him to swim out again! Ten minutes later he swam out again, and I put it to him! This time I actually got that rod pumped up in the air, and I was cranking down on him! I had his head turned and he was coming up! After a good 30 minutes of battling the son of a gun I got him boat side and he came to the surface like a small submarine. This fish dwarfed every Goliath I've ever landed. He made me look like a midget! I estimated him to be at least four hundred pounds. It was actually the biggest fish I ever caught in my life. Best a luck out there guys and girls here's to the next one!

Capt. Billy Barton operates Scales N Tails Charters. 979-6140

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Perfect Place for Scallops By Betty S taugl er Water LIFE / Sea Grant For the last several years, I have been working on a variety of bay scallop monitoring projects. The goal has been to get a good idea of our local conditions…population status, current distribution and target areas for restoration effort. All of these efforts finally put us in a position to launch a targeted restoration project. And, with funding support from the West Coast Inland Navigation District we did just that using hatchery reared larvae. In August, bay scallops were collected for hatchery spawning. But, due to late summer rains followed by our more recent red tide, the hatchery had to hold off on initiating a spawn until December. And in December it happened, like a Christmas present for me, 8 million babies, affectionately named 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,… you get the picture.

The bay scallops were raised in the hatchery for ten days prior to release on December 16th. Two releases occurred, one in Lemon Bay and a second in Gasparilla Sound. In Lemon Bay, larvae were released into a construction boom that was deployed in a circle to contain the released larvae. This controlled release will aid in measuring success. In Gasparilla Sound, we did a free release (no boom). Both sites will be monitored for at least a year.

Although this is a first great step for our area, many more releases will likely be needed. Many thanks to everyone who has supported bay scallop projects in Charlotte County including Great Bay Scallop Searchers, Cage Gardeners, and Recruitment Monitors. And a special thanks to the great team who assisted me with this release by collecting broodstock, setting up booms, releasing larvae, tearing down booms, etc. They include: Hana Nardi, Jim Easton, Arielle TaylorManges, Curt Hemmel, Capt. John Sturm, Jason Thompson, Michael Heller, Sarah Stephenson, Rene Jennamen, Mike Solum, Capt. Van Hubbard, Tyler Wholean (and his mom & dad), John Stevely and Steve Geiger. This project could not have happened without you!! Betty Staugler Florida Sea Grant Agent Univ ersity of Florida IFAS Ex tension Charlotte County (941) 764-4346

East of the Intracoastal, south of Catfish Creek we idled into shallower water and looked around. Charlotte Sea Grant agent Betty Staugler looked over the side. The sea grass was rich and thick. The water was only 18-inches deep. One of the team divers got into the water and felt around the bottom. He brought up a gelatenous sea hare (below left) and then a small starfish in a healthy clump of weed. The project released millions of tiny scallop ʻspatsʼ into the water here, hopeing they will attach to the sea grass and grow. A scallopʼs life cycle is about 18 mos in our waters.



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Scallop Spats Tiny, but they grow fast

Above: First two containment barriers were constructed in circles. Right & Below: Next, the team put out weighted floats with Scotchbrite sponges or citrus bags as surfaces where the tiny, sticky, scallop 驶spats始 can grow and be sampled. Bottom Right: Millions of spats suspended in water are dumped into the Gasparilla Sound south of Catfish Creek.

Manatee County Sea Grant Agent John Stevely helped deploy the weighted citrus bags that the tiny scallops spats will attach to and grow on. Left to Right: Charlotte Sea Grant AgentBetty Staugler, FWC asst. research scientist Sarah Stephenson, volunteer Jason Thompson and Remy Janneman from Sarasota Co. Coastal Resources Dept. work on anchoring the boom.

Frame of Reference

Water LIFE photographed the tiny spats next to a dime, in a puddle of water on the red top of a plastic bucket. We used an old 驶reversal ring始 on our modern digital camera to turn a 35mm lens backwards, greatly increasing the magnification. We made the hand held shot in bright sunlight while aboard the boat. These spats then joined several million others in the water.

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Top 10 News Stories of 2012


By Capt. Ron Bl ago Water LIFE Senior Staff

Each year I go through my notes and pull out 10

news items that I felt didn't get enough notice by

the main stream media. They may not be headline items, but, the way I look at things, they should have had more discussion.

10 – Presi dent Obama was reelected for a second term but he received 3,899,003 fewer votes than he did in 2008. Someone once said, a country that is big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you got. 9 - Back i n February, two FWC employees Allen Nelson and Melody Oakley were found guilty of racketeering and ordered to pay back $553,000 in restitution. Maybe instead of looking out for Manatee Zone violators they should have been keeping an eye on the cash register. 8 - In S eptember a St Pete woman was arrested for riding on the back of a manatee at Ft. Desoto Park. It appears that the penalty for touching a manatee is a $500 fine and up to 6 months in jail. Since I'm sure the statute of limitations is up I'll admit that back in the 70's we used to ride the manatees in

Sarasota Bay. It's not as easy as the lady's video makes it appear. Anyway, I hear she will be placed on the manatee molesters list and can not be within 500 yards of a manatee observation area. 7 – No hurri canes hit Florida this year even though there were 19 named storms and 10 hurricanes. Lets hope our

six year lucky streak keeps up. Some Red Tide did show up in October and is still being detected in light concentrations from Tampa Bay to Lee Co., but it was nothing as compared to past outbreaks. This outbreak definitely started offshore and was just another common natural event. 6 – It has been esti mated that as much as 40% of the fish you get in a restaurant is not as advertised. Think about that the next time you order a grouper sandwich. According to the government there are 56 different species of fish that can legally be called grouper. But there is hope on the way; the folks at USF have developed a portable fish tester called the Q Pyre DNA fish tester. It's about the size of a cell phone and cost about $2,500. 5 – Wi th the decrease in the number of boats registered in Florida over the last several years, officials are wondering if canoes and kayaks should be a logical source of revenue to pick up the slack.



One thing they know for sure is that there are a lot more canoes and kayaks on the water then ever before, and with that increase come more problems and expense. In 2011 there were more deaths in canoes and kayaks (10) than there were in personal watercraft (8). 4 – Gl obal warmi ng stopped 16 years ago. At least that was the headline of the story out of London in Oct. It said that global warming between 86-96 was on the rise and then hit a plateau; between 1997 and 2012 there was no rise in global temperature. Last month the U.N. Meteorological Organization issued a report that 2012 is likely to be among the top 10 warmest years on record. What we now know is that the earth's temperature changes a lot, all the time. 3 – Economi cal l y speaki ng, things are getting better in Florida. Unemployment rate is 8.1%, down from 10.1% last year. Population in Florida is 19.3 million with the state adding 235,000 new residents this year. I guess we are slowly heading in the right direction. The Federal unemployment rate is 7.9%; for comparison the Euro Zone has a rate of 11.7%. Spain has the highest rate at 26.2%. 2 – Looks l i ke the small tooth sawfish has beaten out the manatee for the most annoying endangered species of the year. Because of new Federal regulations and permits requirements, property owners, seawall and dock builders find delays of up to 9 months to find out if they will get the necessary permits to begin work. 1 – There was some good news last year for the turtle people. Loggerhead turtles had a banner nesting year in 2012. There were 58,172 nests counted; one of the highest numbers since monitoring began in 1989. The best year was in1998 with 59,916 nests found and the lowest was 28,074 in 2007. The loggerhead is the most common sea turtle in Florida with an estimated 90% of all hatchings occurring in Florida.



Everyoneʼs gone home: Nowʼs the time to go fishing

By Capt. S teve S kevi ngton Water LIFE Offshore Well the Holidays are over, and the Mayans got it wrong,.... Friends and family have gone back home and it’s time to relax and go fishing. Due to tighter and tighter fishing regulations and the highest fuel cost in history, the Gulf of Mexico is seeing very little fishing pressure. When compared to years past, there is almost no one out there anymore. What this means to the guys still

getting out is, lots more fish! We’re now catching more and bigger grouper than ever before, more snapper, more kingfish, tasty hogfish and amberjacks... some of the best fishing I have seen in recent memory. I have sometimes thought to myself after a hard days fishing what it must have been like out there 100 years ago... big huge grouper on every rock, snapper that would test the strongest tackle... surprise fish coming over the side of the boat, such as big black sea

bass and hogfish...mutton snapper in as little as twenty feet! How blessed am I that I get to experience that kind of fishing now. We have been leaving the dock around 8am every day, trolling for the first two hours or so and landing more than our fair share of kingfish, bonita, Spanish mackerel, black fin tuna and such. All we troll with is NO. 2 planers with 3-inch kingspoons behind them at about 8 knots. This set-up works year round. When we get to our destination we like to bottom fish with 5/0 circle hooks on 40lb fluorocarbon leaders. Using primaraly frozen squid and

Page 15

shrimp, we are catching everything from big gag grouper to lane snapper and buckets of white grunts and porgys, with the ever present fire truck sized red grouper tossed in the mix . The amberjack will be on the deeper reefs for the rest of the season. And of course big live baits are the trick with those reef donkeys. Sharks are still around. We have had several on in the last 30 trips or so. Just leave a free-lined piece of cut bait floating out behind the boat while your bottom fishing, you'll be surprised at what will show up on that. For a good time call Captain S teve at (941) 575-3528

FRANKLY: If You Are Not Going To Eat It, Donʼt Kill It

Page 16

By Fi shi n’ Frank Water LIFE Baitshop Sorry to be blunt, but this is a new year and I feel like we should be straight with each other. If you are not going to eat it, don't kill it! And do handle with care. And if you are going to eat it, get your hands messy and do it the right way, with little or NO waste. Your insides will be cleaner. If you Catch and Release then go out and buy a fish, an average of 12 pounds of marine life have to die for you to eat one pound of store-bought fish. Your hands did not get dirty and you did not have to see the mess, but what really happened is that you are saying it is OK for more things to die than necessary, as long as you can be lazy and not have to see it. Here it is 2013. I have come to the conclusion that we have all been given another chance.There has been the threat of 12/21/12 hanging over our heads for years. Even if you said you didn’t believe in that junk, it was still a nagging doubt in the back of your head. Another chance for what? To do and be the same person? I decided to make some changes. Some are kind of well... not as nice-sounding as they should be, but here goes. My first question is: WHERE the Hell are the flying cars???? I was promised flying cars and laser-guided fishing rods by now, lures with on-board mini-cams so I could see the fish as they bite, on my eye-implanted 3-D camera system. Well guess I will just have to wait, and still put the boat to the ramp and feel the bite, as I twitch my lure out from that tight little corner pocket of the mangrove bushes. – SO... it will still take practice, skill and a dose of luck to get that fish, which I guess is better, but a laser guided lure with 3-D imaging and an on board bait guidance system still could be cool. First off I am not going to believe someone, or some group, just because they put "SAVE THE" in front of whatever the heck Save the doo doo fish they


The PTTS Tarpon Tournament is reportedly making changes in how they handle their fish

are promoting. I will look into what they are doing and see what, if anything, they say is for real, or if they are just trying to make money, take you money or keep someone else from making money, by feeding off of our good nature and making us feel guilty about something, so they can make the money. It’s strange how often money keeps coming up, but it’s always mentioned with the word donate, which to me translates to give me money. Maybe I am cynical? I will not promote Catch and Release as the only way to fish, that is just plain goofy. Fish are healthy food and eating fish is a part of life. Every single thing on the planet kills or consumes something else, why in heaven’s name would you buy fish oil pills when you can get it from the source, as in the real thing? It is time to get our hands dirty and promote NO WASTE: if you catch it, kill it, clean, cook it yourself, you will waste as little as possible. (Sarcasm) I know, you don't kill just buy a burger from the King.

For me, a big thing is to promise that I will get my lazy butt down the water, so when I handle a fish I am going to release my hands, or gloves, or rag, will be wet. If you handle a fish with anything dry, even your hands, it will remove the slime layer from the fish and while the fish may swim away fine, it will die in a few days from infections. It’s sad, and true, but only wet will do. I also need to remember to give the fish time to get it together and catch its breath, so to speak, before I just toss it back in the water. Revive a fish by just holding it in the water, not shaking it back and forth. If you had just run a marathon would you like to relax a minute or have somebody shaking you back and forth, yelling ‘hey come on relax, dang you’. A better way is just let the fish relax, the fight is over we both had fun. Calm works. A promise to myself: I will only keep one fish dinner in the freezer, I live in the fishin’ paradise. If I want a fish dinner I will catch one. And as Chef Ramsey



says, fresh is way better than frozen. Another thing I am going to do is, more fishing to relax. I am going to take the time to really look at where I am on Charlotte Harbor. All of Southwest Florida is a tropical paradise, we read about in book as a kid, the fish, birds wildlife, are really second to none. I will match this place against anywhere. Take a boat out on the Harbor or go stand on a pier, and just look around a minute, chances are you will see, dolphins, pelicans, terns, schools of bait. Just being here is awesome. Try to remember what it was like the very first time you ventured out, how your head swiveled from side to side as each new thing came into view. Another goal of mine is to pinch the barbs down on my lures whenever I am going catch and release fishing. If I am going to release the fish, what do I need the barbs for? Barb-less hooks are terrible. The fish don't stay on and neither will the bait, but when you just bend the barb down, it all works. Living cleaner, and if I do happen to have a fish die and if it is legal, I will clean it and cook it, even if I am tired and don't feel like it. Yes, that has to happen to all of us. Truth be told, we are all guilty of being lazy and not doing the right thing, The world did not end. We have a brand spanking new year ahead of us and like I said, we are still here. What a gift, a chance to be better people, protect what we love and not get sucked in with BS just because it is wrapped up in pretty words and pictures. Life is often hard and messy when done right. My last resolution thing is: I will not write complaining stories about fishing and what I think you and I should do. I vow to be happier and more forgiving, and to enjoy the company of my fellow humans. We are a good bunch, (well most of us) and to be honest, I really like you all and enjoy your company. Live, learn, and question the important stuff before you believe it. Enjoy the day, have fun go fishing and be safe.

Frank cane be reached at: 625-3888 or at: Frank @FishinFrank



Page 17

Paddlers line the channel out of Edgewater Lake waiting for the Christmas Lighted Boat Parade to start.

Something Different

By Davi d Al l en Water LIFE Kayaking Our kayak club, the Port Charlotte Kayakers (PCK), recently had a unique opportunity to be videotaped from the air while paddling on the Peace River. Not too exciting you say, just another paddle, and you'd be right, but it was a fun experience for all of our group. Those of you who regularly follow this column know that I often describe the beauty and wonder of paddling on a local river or the Gulf. What you may not know (or care to know) is how we select the locations, etc. At our meeting each Wednesday, I get suggestions from our club members as to where they would like to paddle on Sunday. We then vote on one of the locations, and the time, and hurry off to dinner at a local restaurant. Several weeks ago, one of our clubs charter members, Skip Rasmussen, said he had contacted an ultra light operator in Arcadia and wondered if the club was interested in being videotaped from the air during a paddle. And of course, the club voted "Yes". Skip is a professional videographer who is the owner/operator of Nu-Tek Videonics in Punta Gorda and is the official photographer of the PCK. We all thought this would be a fun paddle, so

we picked a Sunday to launch into the Peace River at Nocatee for this event. Last Sunday we launched at 10 am from Nocatee and began paddling north. Just a few minutes later we could hear the ultra light approaching from the north and then it swoops down and begins taking both video and still shots of our group below. As we paddled up the Peace River, the ultra light made pass after pass, and we all smiled and waved, forgetting that the plane was too high to clearly show our posing. After about 15 minutes the ultra light had enough footage, and had seen enough of waving arms, and departed for the airport at Arcadia. The Peace River in the area south of Arcadia is quite rural and quite enchanting for any paddle. We hadn't been to this area for many months and had forgotten how beautiful this section of the river is. And even though it had not rained for some time, there was about a knot of current down the river. It was a warm, sunny day with little wind...perfect for a photo-shoot.

Remind Your Charlotte County Commissioners we have a pristine estuary and that Charlotte County Does Not Need Another Dump

After paddling for a little over an hour, we took a snack-break on a sandy river bank and then headed back downstream to our cars. It was not too exciting as paddles go, but it was a fun change in our usual routine. Many thanks to George and Joyce Chase of Arcadia for taking the aerial shots and to Skip Rasmussen for organizing the whole adventure. The complete

videotape can be seen on Youtube at; AgrO7D8& Hope you enjoy the still photos too. The Port Charlotte Kayakers meet each Wednesday evening at Franz Ross Park off Quesada Ave. at 5 PM. All are welcome to attend. For more information call Dave Allen at 941-235-2588 or email to

Page 18




Provided to Water LIFE BY: Dave Hofer RE/MAX Harbor Realty (941) 575-3777





Recent area news items:

1. Quiz: What's worse than having a government agency involved in operating a commercial real estate project?

Answer: Having TWO government agencies owning the same property! Sarasota County and the City of North Port jointly purchased the bankrupt Warm Mineral Springs spa for $5.5 million in 2010 and hired the former operators to continue its money burning management. That management contract expires next June. Members of both boards are now in disagreement about the direction of the resort or even how to solicit a new manager. This is still another sad example of elected officials with short term tenure and no business experience or judgment making investment decisions for its taxpayers.

The wind was not cooperative for the start of the Punta Gorda Sailing Club始s Annual Holiday Regatta, but it was a beautiful day on the water and eventually, they got off in light winds.

Charlotte County could use a more functional work boat

2. The proposed Calusa Green landfill project was dealt another blow this month. The comprehensive plan for the County does not permit this type of use in this area. The site is located in Eastern Charlotte County on 554 acres 3.5 miles north of Bermont Rd & 6.6 miles east of Rt 3. The developers unsuccessfully attempted to have the plan changed to fit their needs.

3. DR Horton, the national home builder, broke ground on its Talon Bay housing development in Warm Mineral Springs. The project is located on Oriz & Rt 41. Phase I will consist of 42 homes to be completed by the end of 2013. Pricing will range from the mid 100s to the mid $200s.

What boat would Charlotte County use to set a barrier across a river if something happened upstream? Charlotte County uses a 12 year old Parker boat (top) for its marine projects, like the recent scallop restoration. Sarasota helped with their LST style, Munson boat, a vessel that can rapidly deploy barriers and set waterway markers. Charlotte needs a boat with those capabilites.

4. Charlotte County foreclosure filings increased to 216 vs 131 in November, 2011.

5. The VA will open an outpatient clinic in Cape Coral greatly improving convenience to Charlotte County vets.

6. Billy Fuccillo announced plans to acquire a 77 acre bank owned site on Cranberry and Rt 41 in North Port. He will likely devote 25 acres of this site to a new Kia dealership and will explore other commercial uses for the rest of the property. We'll soon learn how accurate the tax assessor's opinion of value at $4.4 mil was to the actual selling price. He will likely sell the 24 acre parcel that he purchased near 41 & Toledo Blade in Murdock Village.

7. As the time draws near for settlement payouts from the BP oil spill, commissioners and council members are writing up their Christmas lists of projects to spend this windfall on. Mote Marine is angling for the $4.6 million it needs to start its $38.6 project in Punta Gorda. That, at least, has some semblance of complying with the intent of BP's compensation to Florida's economy. On the other hand, Punta Gorda would like to get $32.9 million from RESTORE to start a sewer project in Charlotte Park. Their premise is that it would replace 1,466 septic systems now polluting Charlotte Harbor. Yes, I know, that works out to be a $22K gift

The miniature golf course site in Port Charlotte is for sale for a cool 1.8 mil.

to 1,466 homeowners who weren't the least bit impacted by BP's oil spill...

Sales Statistics: The Charlotte Sun headlined "Median home prices spike". The article implied that "shrinking supply pushes values up across area". They cited that median home prices rose 23.5% in Charlotte County-North Port area last month vs. 2011.

That sounds exciting... wish it was true...

Most of that increase was the result of the change of mix of distressed vs. market value sales. To illustrate that point, take a look at the statistics that I analyzed for a subsection of that market: North Port is a good cross section of the market to evaluate. The predominate home is 1600-1700 square foot 3-2 home less than 15 years old. Our comparative statistics for North Port are as follows: Short sales

Median sales price Bank-owned foreclosure sales

Median sales price Market rate sales

Median sales price

Nov. 2012

Nov. 2011













This "apples to apples" analysis shows an annual increase of 4.8% for the year for market rate homes. I believe that this is a more accurate measurement of the magnitude of price recovery (not just mix changes) that we are currently experiencing.

Lot inventories continued to decline last month with prices stabilizing at pre 2000 levels.



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Call the Captain! OVER 1 ACRE with additional 30'x40' 4 car garage! 3/2/2 pool home minutes from the community boat ramp. Over 500 ft. of fenced property, large concrete pad, stamped concrete driveway and pool deck. RV Parking, Close to beach $265,000


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Call the Captain! CUSTOM BUILT LAKEFRONT POOL HOME! 3/2, 2,000+ sq. ft. Numerous upgrades, Too much to list here! White hurricane storm panels, bevel cut glass entry. Wired for surround sound. Built in 2007. $239,000

Call the Captain! ENORMOUS SAILBOAT TIP LOT 190 FEET OF WATERFRONT AND OPEN WATER VIEWS! Huge lot, private location, quick access to Alligator Creek, sailboat to Ponce Inlet, deep water $215,000

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Page 20


The Olʼ Fishin Hole

Hey ya - all I hope you had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. The 38 foot Sportfish is getting a new bottom job and we are hooking up a new 45 gal. live well and a new full enclosure on the fly bridge. We should have her back in the water by the first part of Jan. Now let's see what the fish'n been like this last month.


If you know any wounded warriors back from Afghanistan or a disabled vet here now, they will get a full day offshore fishing trip and it won't cost them a dime! My phone number is (941) 473-2150 Woodyʼs Call Us! Capt. Jim number: (941) 564-8778

Gag Grouper is Closed until Further Notice

By Captai n Ji m O’Bri en Wat er LIFE Offshore


TRIPLE TAIL - has been chewing real good out on the crab trap buoys and floating grass or debris shrimp is a good bait.

SPANISH MACKEREL - MANGROVE SNAPPER - the mangs are hot right now in 70 to 105 feet of water. I am talking big mangs on the offshore reefs and wrecks using hank brown jigs in hot pink and florescent green 1/2 oz. tipped with shrimp or pieces of sardine. You can also use a knocker rig. Put just enough weight on to go to the bottom and hold

in the current. Put the weight just above your hook when your bait hits the bottom you can let some more line out. It will take your bait away from the sinker. Another method, if you don't have a lot of boat traffic, is send a chum bag down to the bottom give it a shake every 3 to 4 minutes. Then bring your chum bag up about 15 to 20 feet and shake it good every 3 to 4 minutes, 3 or 4 times then bring the chum up another 15 to 20 feet until your chum bag is at the boat. By this time you should have mangs all around your boat. Pick out a big-un and cast one of them pretty jigs tipped with shrimp and let it free line back to them. With a good pair of sun glass' you can pick the big - uns out.

RED GROUPER - big red grouper are chewing real good on the offshore wrecks and reefs. I have a picture of 2 brothers that caught a couple of fire trucks along with some others a little shorter and some nice big mangs. These guys used mullet chunks tipped with squid tentacles, also pin fish for live bait. GAG GROUPER - IS CLOSED


I talked with a couple friends of mine and they told me they limited out on big hog fish at 12 miles out. The only thing was they were spear gun fish'n not rod an reel'n. You're allowed 5 per person. They had 10 delicious fish to eat, not bad guys.

Our FISHING FOR HEROS WOUNDED WARRIORS INC. IS COMING ALONG GREAT. We're just waiting for the forms from the IRS. We already have a group of wounded vets from Vietnam and 2 groups of wounded warriors from Afghanistan waiting to go. Well folks I think it’s time to get out of here so if you have any questions or if you have a good ol' fish'n story or a recipe for cooking fish that we can share with our readers or if you want to book an offshore charter with us aboard the Predator 11 call us at 941- 473- 2150 or 941-564-8778 AND REMEMBER GET OUT AND SNORT SOME OF THAT GOOD CLEAN SALT AIR CUZ IT’S GOOD FER YA !!!




Page 21

Sometimes Unsubstanciated, But Often True in water 5 to 10 meters deep. The fish is classified as critically endangered on the IUCN (International Uniion for Conservation of Nature) Red List as of 2002. Search You Tube for a short video showing how the fish “walks”, yet retains its natural ability to swim.

The Dead Fish at Englewood Beach during the red tide incident in late December were reportedly all mullet. Talk was, that they were white-roe fish discarded by commercial fishermen who only want the pricey red-roe mullet. We couldnʼt find any proof of that before press time.

Starboard Yachts merges with Pier One Yacht Sales “We will not be closing the office on Burnt Store Road,” Greg Postle of Starboard Yachts said. Pier One has its offices at Fishermenʼs Village. “Having both offices open will be a benefit for our clients,” Len Garofoli, founder of Pier One Yacht Sales said. The former Starboard Yachts office at Burnt store will now be called ʻPier One at Burnt Storeʼ Handfish The spotted handfish (Brachionichthys hirsutus), as its name implies, is a rare Australian

fish which has hand-like pectoral fins that allow it to walk on the sea floor. It has only been found in the estuary of the Derwent River in Tasmania and nearby areas typically

Volunteer kayakers and boaters needed to help conduct the shoreline survey in 2013. No experience is necessary. Citizen kayakers and boaters completed the first comprehensive mappings of the Lee and Charlotte county estuarine shoreline in 2007 and again in 2010. Volunteers paddled and motored along the urban and residential coasts collecting more than 5,000 important pieces of information about how much shoreline was natural vegetation, non native vegetation or “hardened” with seawalls or riprap. They also estimated hurricane damage to the vegetation. With volunteer help, the Charlotte Harbor

National Estuary Program plans on updating the shoreline survey by spring of 2013. The update will compare the results of all three surveys. The 2013 survey is supported with a grant from the Florida Coastal Management Program, Florida Department of Environmental Protection and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The CHNEP will provide training and materials, though volunteers will need to have their own water transportation. If you would like to volunteer for the shoreline survey or would like more information about the project, please contact CHNEP Communications Manager Maran Hilgendorf:,

During the Holiday weekend, Officers responded to the Choctawhatchee River to assist two subjects who had overturned their canoe while duck hunting. The two subjects were unable to right their canoe and exit the water and had requested our assistance. Upon arriving and getting the subjects out of the water, the officers discovered the subjects had overturned their canoe in a large amount of submerged corn which they had placed in the water to attract ducks. The two subjects

were short on life jackets, a state duck stamp, and a federal duck stamp. Appropriate citations were issued for the hunting and boating safety violations. Scientists from Cornell University, Liquid Robotics, Inc., and BioSonics, Inc., have integrated a Wave Glider (an unmanned marine robot) with sonar acoustic technology

to develop a new way to survey fish populations. They took an acoustic tool used in fishery surveys – an echosounder – and added it to a Wave Glider propelled by wave motion. The EverStart Series is headed to Lake Okeechobee January 10-12 when as many as 300 pros and co-anglers take to the water for the first of four stops in the Southeast Division. The water is up about two feet higher than it has been the past few years when the Tour and the EverStart series rolls into town and sets up itʼs tent at Walmart.

The National Climatic Data Center reports that the US is struggling with its worst drought since 1956. About 75% of the US is in some state of drought, 55% of the country is in moderate drought, and 20% is facing extreme or exceptional drought. The national average of precipitation 1.19” for November is almost half normal and weʼve just had the eighth-driest November on record in the US. Add to this that in the past half year, 28 states east of the Rocky Mountains set temperature records and 170 all-time temperature records were set in June alone. The early predictions for waterfowl for this year were rosy. The US Fish and Wildlife Service estimated the 2012 waterfowl production in North America at a record high of 48.6 million. Thatʼs 7% higher than the 45.6 million ducks estimated in 2011 and 43% above the long-term average. But hunters are asking: So where are the birds? Ducks and geese migrate according to food and water. The birds have been holding up north with warm weather, and then either moving toward the coasts, or just skipping normal stopovers that have gone dry, flocking on larger lakes that still hold water, and heading directly south where there is more water.

Two cousins from Shelby Township in southeast Michigan were exploring a creek in 11year-old Eric Stamatinʼs backyard over the summer when the pair found a big old bone. The bone was just recently confirmed to be the axis bone of an extinct American mastodon that was 30,000 years old. Talk in the bait shops is about this coming yearʼs PTTS tarpon tournament. Consensus is: if they hold the fish in the water next to the boat in the middle of the pass to measure them, then someone is going to lose an arm. And we ask: who will be held financially responsible?

IOS6 Warning Australian police have issued a statement warning motorists to not rely on the Apple iOS 6 mapping system when traveling to the small city of Mildura since the alreadyflawed app can be “life-threatening.” The mapping system, for which Apple has already had to issue a rare apology for its shortcomings, takes people to the middle of the national park where temperatures can soar, there is no water and where no humans live. The mapping also has trouble getting to Fishermenʼs Village from Retta Esplanade.


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J a n u a r y F i s h i n g F o r e c a s t

(941) 627-0809



El Jobean Open Every Day Mon - S at: 6am - 7pm S un: 6 am - 5 pm

Charlotte Harbor:

Frank, at Fishin' Franks Port Charlotte: 625-3888

Today it’s raining and 65, tomorrow it’s supposed to be 80. Everyone complains about the cold, but what we need are cold spells, they knock out the algae and other growing gunk and clean the water. Most algae, because of warm water, grow without check. The cold 30- or 40-degree nights knock it back. No one likes the cold, but we forget how important is. When you go out after the cold you will see the water is cleaner with a lot less

Photo: Capt. Bart Marx

floating stuff. The algae and all the other stuff just disappears. Every year this is what we wait for. The other thing is the canals, being the solar collectors they are, is where the fish want to settle in to. If you were a fish, where would you rather be? The fish, when the Gulf chills out, go back into the canals. We ended 2012 on a cold note and it brought all the trout up. Last month we had mackerel, pompano, redfish and snook. Now the cold brings the flats alive, because it’s warmer in the shallow water. The cold cleans the water and replenishes the oxygen. It all comes alive and the fish-

Shan Swell with: (L to R) amberjack, gag and red grouper. All were caught early last month.

ing reflects it. In the past couple of weeks the fishing has taken a turn to the good. Over January we will look up on the sandbars for the fish and not so much against the mangroves. If you are looking for redfi sh, the trick is to understand it’s only 3-inches from a redfish’s belly to his eyes. He can hide in some grass where he thinks no one can see him. Chances are redfish will be resting on the bar waiting to eat. Mr. S nook want to be behind the bars. Right now snook like lots of grass and area to move. Look for them out in front of the mangroves where their dark color absorbs


Offshore Fishing Trips: 1/2 day • 8hr • 10 hr • 12 hr We help put your charters together

Shark, Tarpon, Grouper, Snapper, Kingfish, and MORE!

Nighttime Trips Available

Capt. Jim OʼBrien USCG 50 ton license since 1985


sun and they can get warm. Shrimp, right now, is still really good bait for most things. Catching live Pi nfi sh for bait will come into play by the middle of January. Conditions should change by then. Usually we have cold spells coming through regularly, later in January. Then shrimp and pinfish are easy to catch for the redfish and snook. Slower moving bait is best for those fish, now. Schools of trout have been on both sides of the Harbor and both sides of the bridges. This month is a great time for a poppin’ cork

BackBay Xtremes Capt Dave Stephens




and a great time for kids who like something to pull on. Shark fishing usually slows down as soon as the cold spells come in, but it seems like the s andbar s harks and the bo nnet heads are going better than when the water was warmer. We’re seeing good shark fishing in Boca Grande right now, it’s a little unusual, but they are there. If you want to walk the beaches, this is a great time for banana jigs or shrimp. There are whi ti ng , Spani sh, an occasional pompano and quite a few smaller snook on the beaches right now. Fish for whiting and fl ounder with shrimp and the mackerel, pompano or

All Photos this page : Capt. Billy Barton

snook on banana jig. Walk out knee deep and cast up and down the shoreline. Bounce it back to you. If you only want one hook you can put a small piece of shrimp meat on the jig for flounder and whiting. In Boca Grande Pass there are small red grouper. The gags are in all the passes. There have been grunts and snapper on most of the near reefs Out further, cobi a are

The The BIG-4 BIG-4

POMPANO Around the passes, both inside and out

Fish to expect expect in in Fish to

AMBERJACK on the offshore reefs

still just h an g i n g out in the Gulf. It’s a little unus ual , but when you go g ro u p er fi shi ng you’ll also find plenty of cobia. We’ve had keeper red grouper in 60 feet of water, the reefs are loaded and it’s amazing! The king mackerel are still here. The water temps are still really good for them. They move south and come back up north. That could be going on all through January. To get them you have to be 15- to 20-miles out. All and all, the Gulf fishing has been pretty good. In the canals, ponds and creeks the bass fishing has been great, really great! Stingers and ribbon tail worms are the baits the bass are going crazy for. It’s green that is the hot color right now. In the spillways along the Hillsboro and back off Gibraltar

January January

TROUT On the grass flats and around the potholes

canals, bl uegi l l and crappi e are providing a lot of panfish activity. With them, it’s all about the beetle

spins. The greens and pinks or green and white in 1/16 ounce weight seems to be the ones we restock the most.

Lemon Bay:

Jim, at Fishermen’s Edge Englewood: 697-7595

The low water has forced guys to find them in the potholes. It was negative 4 in the morning on the moon at Christmas so there was not much water; that and the wind made fishing hard. Redfi sh and trout are pretty decent, but you have to work for them. In Whidden Creek, Cayo

SHEEPSHEAD Under the piers and bridges

Pelau and Gasparilla Sound guys are catching big fish, mostly on shrimp. Some frugal guys are trying to use pinfish, but they are still pretty small. Artificials like the Little John, the Provoker, or a red and white Miorolure... any of those in a 4- to 5-inch bait will work. There are still plenty of nice sheepshead around the docks and piers. Trout fishing has been OK. The guys are catching nice ones on topwaters bladed baits. Some guys I know went out of Boca Grande offshore 7- to 8-miles, and said they were seeing porgy, mangrove snapper and still some fl ounder. Other guys I know went way offshore, like 40 miles out, and they called and said they were doing really well. They had to let a lot of big gag grouper go. They also caught big snapper and red grouper. On the freshwater side there has been crappi e in the Rotonda canals and lot of small bass. Looks like it’s going to be another good fishing year.

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Gulf Temps in the high 60s and falling


things should be changing soon



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Water LIFE Jan 2013  
Water LIFE Jan 2013  

Fishing, boating and other water related subjects in the pristine environs of Charlotte Harbor Florida